Step out for Bellingham Pride
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
A few years ago, on a visit to my former hometown, a longtime friend I hadn’t seen in awhile told me she had “something big” to tell me.
I knew she’d recently broken up with her husband, but I didn’t know why. As we drove to her condo for dinner, she nervously blurted out the news. “I’m gay,” she said, purposefully avoiding eye contact (and not just because she was the one driving).
“Oh, and I’m living with my girlfriend,” she continued. “You’ll meet her in a few minutes.”
I’m not sure how my friend expected I’d react to the news, but when I asked “Are you happy?” and she vigorously nodded her assent, that was all I needed to know.
You see, the fact that she was gay wasn’t what surprised me. What I found shocking was that my friend had spent decades not living as her authentic self. She claimed she hadn’t realized she was a lesbian until falling for a coworker, but past behavior—a suicide attempt in high school, marital therapy related to what she attributed to a low sex drive, the fact that she always had boyfriends but never wanted to gossip about them the way the rest of her peers did—made me wonder if she’d just been in denial. If so, I was relieved she’d discovered the door to the closet and finally stepped through it.
Fast forward to 2017, and my friend is out and proud. She attends Pride marches, posts pictures of her and her current girlfriend on Facebook, works a demanding job as an educator, and helps raise two sons with her ex-husband.
The point of describing my buddy’s journey is to illustrate that a person’s sexuality doesn’t define what kind of human being they are, and that it’s never too late to make big life changes to ensure your future happiness.
At this week’s Bellingham Pride festival—which is billed as the second-largest pride event in the state, and hosts approximately 10,000 participants annually—inclusiveness and acceptance will be the cornerstone of the events that will take place July 7-9 at a variety of locales.
As part of the “Gender Trouble: A Queer Art Showcase” exhibit at Make.Shift Art Space, Friday night’s Art Walk event will kick off festivities at 8:30pm with an all-ages Queer Prom. From 12-3pm Saturday, the Pride Family Picnic at Maritime Heritage Park will focus on fun for the whole tribe. At 7pm that night, the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Evergreen Empire will host its annual Bellingham Pride Drag Show at Rumors Cabaret.
Sunday will be an all-day affair, from a fundraising Pride Breakfast at Homeskillet to the noontime Pride Parade starting at the corner of Halleck and Ohio streets, to the Pride Festival taking place from 12-4pm at the Depot Market Square.
During the weekend of rainbow-hued activities, remember that the agenda of the 18-year-old event is to bring people together and celebrate not just the way we’re all different, but also the ways we’re all the same—whether we’re gay, straight, bisexual, transgender or somewhere in between.
“Our goal at Bellingham Pride is to cultivate and preserve a safe and healthy community for LGBTQ-plus folks and their families to live, work, grow and thrive,” organizers say. “We want to celebrate the diversity of human life, promote equal rights, increase the visibility of the LGBTQ community, and have fun doing it.”
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